More and more great shows are heading into South Wales. Hanger 18, in Swansea is a smallish venue, with a cap of about 300 and is attracting some high profile gigs.
Tonight would be a night to remember. Mike Tramp has a long and distinguished career as the front man of White Lion but now prefers the quieter life of acoustic shows, which have a tendency to bring the audience and performer closer together. Tonight would be no exception as he came to South Wales for the first time since 2007.
Starting off the night were Pearler. a much loved local rock band who are renowned for not taking themselves too seriously. Gig Pigs have seen them several times in their full rock show. The idea of an acoustic set was a strange one. Even chatting to the guys before they started it wasn’t clear whether they would pull it off. But they did. They looked nervous - terrified, really - as they struck up their first notes, but a couple of tracks in, they relaxed and really did get the crowd on their side.
Many of us have seen the full electric set, and had wondered how the translation of the songs to acoustic would be. What it did for me was highlight the fact that they are really talented. Wendell Kingpin has a great voice and a way with the crowd that gets them on side, and enjoying the banter between the three guys on stage.
They were excellent.
Mike Tramp appears on the stage. Alone except for a small stool holding a bottle of water, a couple of capos and spare picks - and prepares to hold the 100 strong audience in the palm of his hands as he wanders through a set of his huge back catalogue. Not just his solo works, but also some of the music that made him a household name on the 80s.
Each track has a story behind it - from the triple header with Skid Row and Motley Crue at Wembley, to tales of fatherhood and his family. Accepting a shot of JD from someone in the audience (“one of the few things I really dislike, but as its a gift, I’ll drink it, with thanks”), he makes connections with various people watching.
Mike uses a pedal board to kick in backing vocals and kick track, which adds to the depth, and brings subtle extensions to his solo voice. As the set continues, the crowd move nearer to the stage until, to get a better view of his singularly brilliant fretwork. I loved hearing his rendition of tracks like ‘Give it All you Got’ and ‘Lady of the Valley’. as well as his more recent solo track, including ‘Homesick’ and ‘Cobblestone Street’.
As curfew drew near, Mike played ‘just one more song’ twice before finally setting down his guitar, to a thunderous ovation from the crowd who had been enthralled by his performance.